Fast Facts on Gestation Crates in Canada

Humane Society International

  • Years of suffering. The HSUS

  • More than 1.4 million breeding sows are kept on Canadian farms, the majority of them confined in cages know as gestation crates.
  • A gestation crate is a metal stall measuring approximately 0.7 m (2 ft) by 2m (7 ft)—barely larger than a sow’s body.
  • A breeding sow spends almost her entire life confined in her gestation crate, not even able to turn around, and only able to move a few steps forward and back.
  • Each sow endures a continuous cycle of impregnation and birth (beginning at 7 months of age,) producing more than 20 piglets per year.
  • After only a few litters, a sow’s productivity drops and she is deemed no longer profitable and is sent to slaughter, usually at less than two years of age.
  • The effects of such intensive confinement are numerous; sows often suffer from joint and leg injuries, decreased muscle mass, weakened bones, overgrown hooves, lameness, impaired mobility, obesity, abrasions, urinary tract infections, chronic stress, depression, frustration, aggression, abnormal neurotic behaviour, cardiovascular problems and diseases such as salmonellosis.
  • Crated sows aren’t able to engage in important natural behaviours such as rooting, foraging, nest-building, grazing, wallowing, and practicing social behaviours.
  • Renowned animal welfare scientist Dr. Temple Grandin has said, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and gestation stalls have got to go.”
  • Pigs are highly social, intelligent, and curious. They engage in complex tasks, form elaborate, cooperative social groups and feel pain, fear and stress. 
  • Studies show that pigs are more intelligent than dogs and even some primates, and scientists have demonstrated that capable of learning from each other and even learning names. 
  • Canada produces more than 30 million pigs each year of which about 21 million are slaughtered in this country.
  • Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta are Canada’s top pig producing provinces.
  • A 2010 Harris Decima poll found that 95 percent of Canadians believe that animal pain and suffering should be reduced as much as possible, including for farm animals, and 93 percent of Canadians would support laws ensuring that all farm animals are able to lie down, turn around, and stretch their limbs.